Monday, May 12, 2008
A Conversation Barely Overheard
Jodie's colleague, Karmen, came down from Boston for the weekend. Karmen and Jodie teach at the same university, only Karmen teaches English Literature, instead of American History, like Jodie. Anyway, Jodie served a big dinner Saturday night so everybody could get to know Karmen.
After supper, I passed by Starr Ann and Karmen in the living room and snagged, not deliberately or anything, a few words of their conversation.
Karmen said, "Oh, yes, I read Margo's blog each day, so I know quite a bit about you already."
Starr Ann smiled real big and I think, but I'm not sure because I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I think Starr Ann nodded while she was smiling and took a sip of her beer.
So Karmen went on, "For example, yesterday's piece was quite nice. I especially liked the symbolism in that one."
Well, Starr Ann's eyes got that one sparkle in them, the one that means she's caught somebody out. At least I guess that's what her eyes did. I wasn't paying that much attention. And Starr Ann said, "I don't think Margo put any symbolism into that one. Before she wrote it, she said she had "big issue fatigue" and wanted to just go write something mundane. Something absolutely face-value."
Karmen slowly put her wine glass down on the counter. "Oh, no, Starr Ann. This is my specialty, my field. That piece was loaded with symbols, metaphor, and figurative language."
Starr Ann does not possess a genuine rapt expression. Trust me on this. It's just not in the girl's facial repertoire.
So, Starr Ann gets this rapt expression on her face and says, "Are you sure? Well, since it's your specialty and all, maybe you could write down some of it. Gosh, I guess I just don't know Margo. Or else I don't know how to read. Or something."
Karmen was happy to do it. Come Sunday morning, Karmen dropped an envelope off at our place on her way out of town. In the envelope was an essay. An essay on the symbolism of my last post, the one titled Unremarkable. Anyway, here's Karmen's essay:
Symbolism in 'The Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) Chronicles Post - Unremarkable
Let's define the word first; this word 'symbolism'.
The term "symbolism" is often limited to use in contrast to "representationalism"; defining the general directions of a linear spectrum - where in all symbolic concepts can be viewed in relation, and where changes in context may imply systemic changes to individual and collective definitions of symbols. "Symbolism" may refer to a way of choosing representative symbols in line with abstract rather than literal properties, allowing for the broader interpretation of a carried meaning than more literal concept-representations allow. All forms of language are innately symbolic, and any system of symbols can form a "language;" even a binary system. Human oral language is based on the phoneme. The written word is symbolically representative of both the symbolic phoneme and directly to the cognitive concept which it represents. Symbols are not the creations of mind, but rather are distinct capacities within the mind to hold a distinct piece of information. In the mind, the symbol can find free association with any number of other symbols, can be organized in any number of ways, and can hold the connected meanings between symbols as symbols in themselves.
Having defined, somewhat, the idea of symbolism, let's apply this idea to 'Unremarkable'. I flex this exercise for one reason: the author's friend asked me, and I quote "If you had to describe it, how would you? What was it about, as you saw it?" unquote. Now, I cannot state that I've never searched for or found symbolism in The Starr Ann Chronicles before – that would be an untruth. Indeed, I have soared in Hilarity Clouds and dipped in the Symbolic Seas of the Chronicles many a time, but to be asked how I 'saw' it, well, that was something altogether new.
So, without further ado, let's do this.
Dawn is breaking and Margo Moon's (MM) best friend, Starr Ann (SA) (the one constant in MM's life) is standing beside the bed with coffee (a stimulant that causes one to wake up). MM asks why they are awake (mayhaps the eternal question 'why are we here'?). Starr Ann replies that they are going to the pond (life's beginnings in the primordial ooze) to watch the sun rise (a new beginning). SA reminds MM 'how cold it gets in those last few minutes before dawn. And how damp.' (things are always 'darkest' or 'worse' before the dawn) and gets MM a hoodie (warmth, reassurance).
Next, they walk hand in hand to the pond carrying coffee (love and alertness travelling towards a beginning). They travel through all the 'old' places (leaving the past for the promised light ahead) and MM notes that SA has real, nice hands (dexterity, protection, healing).
Next everything is quiet – even nature herself (relaxation), waiting for the anxious (this is obvious, so nothing to see here, move along) Sun to rise (revelation and enlightenment). Suddenly a bird bursts in 'with the most intricate, twirly, show-off birdsong you ever heard' (childlike happiness; carefree). SA giggles and MM knows this will cause her to 'crack up' (not follow status quo; possibly revert). MM tries to stop SA by 'knocking her on the arm' (connection with the breaker of rules), misses (she doesn't really want to stop her) and falls back (backsliding away from adulthood), making a noise and scaring 5 (five is the number of 'divine grace' and the sign of the mediator between the goddess and her children) deer who run towards them and then away from them (deer direct one to pay attention to one's inner thoughts – think of their antlers as antenna into and out of the brain. Here, perhaps, the deer are saying 'pay attention to the world when you have to, but it's okay to run away from it when you want').
SA, Our Trickster and Mind-Player, is laughing, but helps MM to her feet (I don't think I need to interpret this – pretty obvious) then high-fives MM. They've missed another sunrise. They do not want to grow up.
Dang. I had no idea. I'm either deeper and smarter than either SA (hi, SA) and me put together ever imagined, or symbolism has a life of its own, or Karmen is totally full of it. Heh.